Hello once again to the grassroots Groundsmen across Kent!
Hopefully we are all nearly set for the new football season to kick off. Friendlies and training should be well underway and the pitches are slowly coming back into use. Providing the pitches have had the appropriate maintenance and rest over the off season they should be showing positive results.
Playing on the pitches too soon can cause problems and result in your renovation being unsuccessful. Root depth is very important on any football pitch, ensuring the roots are strong and capable enough to withstand heavy usage. New growth needs time to establish to allow it to tolerate the general wear and tear throughout the playing season.
For me and my team here at K Sports it feels like the season never ended with both of our professional full time clubs starting pre-season in late June. Two of our pitches are already above 15 usages as we head into the football season. Similar to last Year but maybe not as intense, the weather has not been on our side and recent warm temperatures have made it increasingly difficult to maintain the pitches to the required standards.
Pictured below is our pitch two prepared for its first usage in late June:
We are currently working on bringing our height of cut down over the next few weeks to around 28-30mm. This needs to be done gradually ensuring we don’t shock the plant and cause any damage particularly when temperatures are high and moisture levels are low. Our rotary mowers have been working very hard over the last 6 weeks mowing our pitches in different directions daily to ensure the plant remains upright.
Pictured below are our pitches two and five after mowing:
Fertilising can also be challenging during dry spells especially if irrigation is limited. We are now three weeks over due for a feed but intend to apply some granular fertiliser within the next week if the weather is on our side. High pitch usage only highlights the importance of a consistent and effective fertilising programme. Conditions should be carefully considered before applying any granular fertiliser particularly with the recent high temperatures.
Like many of you, our next task is to mark out our youth pitches for the upcoming season. Ensuring measurements are accurate and marking lines are presented to high standards are the main priority. This is achievable using desirable line marking paints from professional suppliers within the industry. Many professional companies will offer free paint samples or demos of their newest or best selling machines which could be well worth a look if there is room in your budget.
Pictured below is our marking machine and half way line finish:
As we head deeper into the summer we will also be looking into making improvements to some of our surrounding areas across our site. Some of the space can be utilised for pre match warm ups, training sessions or short usages which helps to prolong the quality of the pitches where possible. Tidying up surrounding areas and making them more presentable will encourage managers and coaches to use more off pitch areas. If surface levels are good and grass coverage is up to the required standards these spaces are well worth having. Grids, goalkeeper warm up areas or even small sided pitches can be marked in to take as much of the training as possible. If these areas are used regularly it is worth slightly increasing the cutting height for further protection and to help reduce general wear and tear.
As we head closer to the football season we will be carrying on with minor renovation work and pitch repairs ensuring our pitches are maintained to high standards. Our ride on mowers will be in use most days using the brushing units to help with post training clean ups. We will be adding further sand, seed and fertiliser to the pitches and aim capitalise on the rainfall which is forecast.
I often take the opportunity to spot spray our natural turf pitches with a selective herbicide as we head into August to clear and prevent any weeds which our contractors may have missed. This gives us a short window to seed small areas and establish new growth just in time for the new season. Ideally a selective herbicide treatment should be applied once a Year to help keep your pitch relatively weed free.
It is also worth assessing all equipment before the season starts to ensure its in good, safe working order. This could be greasing of goals, painting of goal posts, replacement nets, replacement flags or any other changes which may be necessary. Having well maintained, safe working equipment only adds to the experience for the end user. Again this will also encourage managers and coaches to take more care of the equipment throughout the playing season.
Good luck to you all over the next Month lets hope the weather is on our side!
Head Groundsman K Sports Cobdown.